Navigation Links
Are sacrificial bacteria altruistic or just unlucky?
Date:4/15/2008

HOUSTON, April 15, 2008 -- An investigation of the genes that govern spore formation in the bacteria B. subtilis shows that chance plays a significant role in determining which of the microbes sacrifice themselves for the colony and which go on to form spores.

B. subtilis, a common soil bacteria, is a well-known survivor. When running short of food, it can alternatively band together in colonies or encase itself in a tough, protective spore to wait for better times. In fact, B. subtilis is so good at making spores that it's often used as a model organism by biologists who study bacterial spore formation.

"It's too early to say whether B. subtilis is truly altruistic," said co-author Oleg Igoshin, assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University. "What is clear from this is that not all bacteria are going to look and act the same, and that's something that can be overlooked when people either study or attempt to control bacteria with population-wide approaches."

For example, Igoshin said doctors and food safety engineers might need to amend general approaches aimed at controlling bacteria with more targeted methods that also account for the uncharacteristic individual.

The new results appear in the April 15 issue of Molecular Systems Biology. The experimental work, which was done by Jan-Willem Veening, currently at Newcastle University, and by other members of Oscar Kuipers' research group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, focused on the B. subtilis genes that regulate both spore formation and the production cycles of two proteins -- subtilisin and bacillopeptidase. These two proteins help break apart dead cells and convert them into food. They are produced and released into the surrounding environment by B. subtilis cells that are running low on food.

From previous studies, scientists know there is some overlap between genes that control the production of the two proteins and those that control spore formation.

"Only a portion of the bacteria in a colony will form spores and only portion of the bacteria produce subtilisin, and we were interested in probing the genetic basis for this," Igoshin said. "How is it decided which cells become spores and which don't?"

Igoshin, a computational biologist, used computer simulations to help decipher and interpret the team's experimental results. He said the team found that fewer than 30 percent of individuals in a colony produce large quantities of the food-converting proteins. Even though the proteins benefit all members of the colony and help some cells to become spores, the cells that produce the proteins in bulk do not form spores themselves.

"There's a feedback loop, so that cells that start producing the proteins early get a reinforced signal to keep making them," Igoshin said. "We found that it's probabilistic events -- chance, if you will -- that dictates who is early and who is late. The early ones start working for the benefit of everyone while the later ones save valuable resources to ensure successful completion of sporulation program. Many cells will end up committing to sporulation before they had a chance to contribute to protease production"

Igoshin said a key piece of evidence confirming modeling predictions came in experiments that tracked genetically identical sister cells, some of which became protein producers and some of which didn't.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Tomato pathogen genome may offer clues about bacterial evolution
2. Researchers mimic bacteria to produce magnetic nanoparticles
3. Marine bacterias mealtime dash is a swimming success
4. Biologists surprised to find parochial bacterial viruses
5. Evolution of root nodule symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
6. Team probes mysteries of oceanic bacteria
7. Airborne bacteria may play large role in precipitation
8. LSU scientist finds evidence of rain-making bacteria
9. Bacteria and nanofilters -- the future of clean water technology
10. Biochemists reveal details of mysterious bacterial microcompartments
11. Invisible bacteria dupe the human immune system
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/22/2016)... , Jan. 22, 2016 ... the addition of the "Global Biometrics ... to their offering. --> ... the "Global Biometrics Market in Retail ... --> Research and Markets ...
(Date:1/20/2016)... Jan. 20, 2016 A market that just ... benefit from the explosion in genomics knowledge. Learn all ... Research. A range of dynamic trends are pushing market ... personalized medicine - pharmacogenomics - pathogen evolution - next ... markets - greater understanding of the role of genetic ...
(Date:1/20/2016)... 20, 2016  Synaptics Incorporated (NASDAQ: SYNA ... today announced sampling of S1423, its newest ClearPad ... small screen applications including smartwatches, fitness trackers, and ... and rectangular shapes, as well as thick and ... moisture on screen, while wearing gloves, and supports ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... February 4, 2016 --> ... acceleration company is pleased to provide the following update on ... Over the last 3 months we have significantly increased ... agreements exceeding $1,000,000. As a result, we have positioned ourselves ... Inc. license agreement and expect that development to continue on ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Feb. 4, 2016  Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: SPEX ... and monetization of intellectual property, today provided an update ... the Northern District of Texas ... Inter Partes Re-examination ("IPR") proceedings that ... The IPR was initiated on only certain claims of ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... Franz Inc. , an ... technology has been recognized As “ Best in Semantic Web Technology - USA ... Corporate America, it’s our priority to showcase prominent professionals who are excelling in ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... ... Many of the engineers at FireflySci, Inc. have been manufacturing quartz and ... other cuvette manufacturers is their supercharged customer service and their extensive database of glass ... flow of inside information, they have recently revamped their manufacturing techniques to reduce lead ...
Breaking Biology Technology: